I might have a different opinion if I had owned a 929, but I made the jump from a 600 to a 954. Just so you know, I was also interested in getting a 929 in 2000-2001, but finances dictated I wait. I'm glad I did!
First, the 954 is a much more beautiful bike to my eye. I know this is opinion, but the new multiple headlight system, the more aggressive shape, the LED tail light, and the awesome swingarm make the 954 the more trick and attractive bike.
As for the handling, I only rode a 929 once, so I can't really say which is better.
By all accounts, the brakes on the 954 are superior to those on the 929.
In the power category, the 954 is the stronger bike by a pretty good margin. The 25cc increase in displacement and a little tweaking gave the 954 more HP, and more torque, especially in the midrange. To get the power of a 954, the 929 requires an exhaust system and a PCIII
. That's a few bucks right there! For those of you that don't think that the few HP the 929 is down to the 954 matter....remember, the 954 was only down a couple HP to the GSXR1000 in 2002. Those few horses did matter to everyone when the 954 came out, because we all wished it had more. That's why I don't understand how some of you say a 5-10HP increase hardly makes a difference.
Overall, the 954 is the better, more powerful bike. If you take away all the mods you made to your 929 and compare it to a stock 954, or, applied the money you put into your 929 to improve the 954, the 954 is clearly the better bike. I'm not knocking the 929, I love the bike and almost bought one. I just think that it has an edge to it that the 929 does not.
I love my 954, and it will take a hell of a bike to make me want to get rid of it for a new one. In that respect, I know how all you 929 owners feel.